Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence, by Paul Feig
The emotion you feel when you realize most of the gags on Freaks and Geeks actually happened to Paul Feig is something akin to pity mixed with mirth. Kick Me covers Paul's life from kindergarten through high school and holds a very high cringe factor. There's this one story where he finds a Nazi flag his father brought back from the war and I won't spoil it, but just know that it's classic. My only gripe was that the fifteen or so stories are all one-shots, so some of the characters get introduced multiple times. Instead of trying to forget everything about adolescence, Feig remembered every single, painful detail and is now using it for his own benefit. Paul is also co-producing Greg Daniel's new show and was recently grilled by The New York Times. It's a great interview--I suggest reading it even if you aren't a fan of his.
Rapunzel's Revenge, by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale
You know how I worship Shannon Hale, New York Times bestselling author? Yeah, we're tight. (Seriously, she knows who I am, either because of the sparkling comments I leave on her blog or the fact I stalk her at signings. Hopefully both!) RR is a collaboration between Shannon and her husband. Nathan (no relation) provides the delicious illustrations to this re-telling of the Rapunzel story. It's a graphic novel, which is essentially a long comic book. Once you begin, it's easy to swallow up the story in no time at all (and it leaves you with that feeling of "wait, it's over?"). Everything about it screams clever. If you have kids (or likely nieces and nephews for most of you), you've got to give this as a gift.
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
When I first picked it up, I was all, "Oh, this is a lot shorter than I thought it would be." In hindsight, that's actually a good thing. Nick & Norah is so intense and lusty that 180 pages is more than enough ground to cover the topic. There's no way I'd let really young teens read it and it's probably too explicit for most conservative types. From what I've seen of the previews, there was lots of liberty taken with the storyline. I'll go see the movie and all, but the book didn't live up to the hype.
The Cars, Complete Greatest Hits
A couple of weeks ago, I had this epiphany that I really like The Cars. Based purely off the radio hits, I thought I'd look more into their past songs. They have a formula that worked for them, so I don't think I'll go more in depth with their anthology. In small doses, The Cars are lots of fun.
Dan In Real Life Soundtrack
One of the many things I loved about Dan in Real Life was the music. Sondre Lerche provides both instrumental and vocal tracks for one of the best soundtracks I've heard in the past year. You get the feeling that this is a man that understands romance and heartbreak. The strings are bold and the brass is understated--a refreshing change as it's usually the other way around. There's a cover of "Fever" by A Fine Frenzy that feels somewhat incongruously tucked in the middle, but otherwise it's all superb. The real treat was the duet by the always coy Regina Spektor and Sondre. I listen to most of my music from the library and this is one cd I plan on adding to my permanent collection.
The Watson Twins, Fire Songs
I was worried about Fire Songs because the divine Ms. Jenny Lewis wasn't helping out this time around (see: Rabbit Fur Coat). Don't worry, it's all good. And I mean all of it. The album is kind of like pop/indie/flamenco/The Cure/alt-country amazingness packed into eleven songs.
I was so stoked to see this that I went on opening day. TOTALLY worth it. Ricky Gervais could carry the show by himself, but Greg Kinnear and Tea Leoni multiply the humor exponentially. And I don't even like Tea Leoni, so you know I'm not kidding. There was so much laughter packed into every minute that my stomach hurt just a little at the end. Also, my heart hurt from the few gripping and serious scenes. Apparently, this movie was painful but only in the best way. Every single kind of comedy is employed successfully. If I handed out ratings, I'd give Ghost Town four stars.
Monday, September 29, 2008
(Some of these have been cross-posted over on my tumblr, but it's all worth a second glance.)
Saved the best for first! I L.O.L. every single time I see this.
In case you were wondering, this is a picture of a young Steve Martin ironing a kitten.
Jemaine: Are you and Lisa gonna get married now?
Bret: I wish, but I don't know. She's got to go to war.
Bret: Yeah, Iraq.
Bret: Yes, she's in Delta Force. She's been deployed to Fallujah.
Jemaine: But she works in the croissant shop.
Bret: Yeah, well, she's got two jobs. She's a pastry chef and a sniper.
(Via Flight of the Conchords)
Maybe I made this and it still makes me laugh. So what?
(Via Snorg Tees) I know, I know. I'm a geek.
(via The Deseret News)
If anything, thank you so much for bringing this to Utah. I kind of hate that I know all the words to "Crush," but I still think you're a cutie.
Lots of love,
Friday, September 26, 2008
This, my friends, is how television is done. "Weight Loss" is by far the best season premiere of the show thus far. Maybe "The Dundies" runs a close second, but I'd still rank it second.
The episode kicks off straight into the opening credits--no cold open, which makes me sad. As opposed to the usual format of skipping straight to real time, this episode took us through 8 weeks of a glorious Scranton summer. Corporate is trying to get everyone to lose weight--the winning branch gets
Let's start with the new girl. Holly Flax, a major dork and girl after my own heart, is adjusting to her role. She teaches yoga, is not a lesbian, and has a sesame seed allergy and a butt that will not quit. (The bit with Oscar was probably the most awkward scene of the hour. Awkward and awesome!) She still understandably thinks Kevin is slow. When Angerela-ella-ella starts verbally abusing Kev, Holly jumps to the rescue and makes a complete fool of herself. It's actually quite endearing. Things don't go so well with the yoga instructor and there's a strong connection with Michael. Any couple who can rap together like those two deserve one another.
Oh, Michael. He's still pandering to Jan (who, thankfully, wasn't around much in this ep). Michael's going to be a good dad, but he deserves a wife and kids of his own. The Michael highlight was the Body Image Celebration, complete with inane pictures and Michael Klump-impersonation. Okay, so I get that he bought the sumo suit, but it also involved buying an entire business suit to go with it. At least he got the gender of the suit correct! His man-crush on Ryan hasn't diminished. "Go.....tee!" I loved the so-close attempt at wooing Holly. I know this never occurred to him, but seriously, you couldn't have asked her to go see Counting Crows with you?
Kelly and Darryl have still got it going on. I don't believe for one second that Ryan wants Kelly back, but of course she's going to fall for it. This is a girl who drank maple syrup, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and water for three days straight. (The "cleanse diet" was a tidy jab at the Oprah fad from this last summer. Edit: Noelle corrected me and said that Beyonce did it years ago. That makes sense, given Kelly's affinity to all things Beyonce.) When Michael made Kelly stand up in the chair, it reminded me of this time in college when a professor made everyone say something nice about me. I don't really remember why, either. At first it was uncomfortable, but it is disappointing when it's over. "What else do you like about me?"
Angela Martin, with a routine like that, it's no wonder that you sleep so well at night. Of course she feels slightly guilty, but I can guarantee that it's all neatly rationalized in her mind. Andy really is kind to her (check out their fairy tale wedding website!), but only Dwight is man enough for her. I try not to think too much about Dwangela bow-chica-bow-wow, but it was pretty hot in this episode. How on earth will she ever decide? (Note: I have concocted rampant speculation on this subject, but The BFF reads this and she hates it when I speculate.) "Little Drummer Boy" is a call-back to both "The Pilot" and "A Benihana Christmas," so there has to be a hidden agenda. Andy's a Capella troupe, Here Comes Treble, is the collective best man. Individually, however, they have nicknames like Broccoli Rob, Jingle Jangle, and Sandwich. I wonder how many of them are still single...
Hoo boy. Jim and Pam. Where do I even begin? She's in New York; he's in Scranton. I like how she's the Hall RA and has to deal with issues like stolen soy milk, which is almost too realistic. It's hard on both of them (TWSS), but Pam at least has new challenges and friends. Mad Men's Rich Sommers makes a non-threatening appearance as a skilled artist of professor portraits. Jim doesn't actually do a whole lot in this episode, beside pledging to lose sixty-five pounds. (Side note: John Krasinski has lost lots of weight since the beginning. I prefer JKras with a little more meat on his, erm, bones.) Jim makes his trademark faces at the camera and that about covers it.
Oh yeah. I guess he also proposes to Pam. (!!!)
Holy heavens above, that was the most perfect engagement I could have imagined for the two. I was sure the writers would drag it out through November sweeps, but no, it happened during a summer rainstorm, at the Fairway Gas Station off Exit 17 where that soda once exploded on Jim. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW LONG I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS? I cried and squee'd and essentially flipped out. And wow, talk about a passionate kiss! I love those crazy kids.
Utica barely beats out Scranton and Toby is injured in Costa Rica. Ha! The next episode airs on October 9th. I expect I'll be on a giddy JAM high for the next two weeks and that is what will carry me through 'til then. If I didn't know any better, I'd say #5 is shaping up to be a season of epic proportions.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Here's the dealio, kids. I've got these nifty gifty packs to give away. Kind of like swag (Stuff We All Get), but only three of you actually get something. The rest of you get my love and admiration and well, that's all one can hope for in life.
The Michael Package
(1) TWSS Mini Legal Pad
(1) From the desk of... Magnetic List Pad
(1) TWSS Sticky Notes
(1) Leadership notebook
The Pam Package
(1) Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam Mini Legal Pad
(1) Dunder Mifflin Fridge Magnets
(1) This is Pam Sticky Notes
(1) Pam Beesly Quote Pens
The Dwight Package
(1) DWIGHT Mouse Pad
(1) DM Crew Mini Legal Pad
(1) Dwight Head Stress Ball
(1) Information is Power Sticky Notes
Unfortunately, there is no Jim Package. Yeah, I went there. But I will give you this!
How To Win
1. Leave a comment on this post about your favorite tv show.
2. If you have a blog or twitter, post about it to earn one extra entry. Make sure you let me know if you did this so I can count it.
3. Only readers from the United States and Canada. Sorry if that's not you, but you know how it is.
4. I will close comments at 6:00 PM Mountain Standard Time on Thursday, October 2nd.
5. If you do not have a blog where I can reach you, please include a valid email address.
6. Winners will be selected using random.org.
7. I will announce the winners on Friday, October 3rd.
8. Winners will be responsible to contact me with the necessary shipping information.
9. If one of the winners does not contact me within three days, then a new winner will be selected.
10. No kicks to the groin and home by dinner.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Freaks & Geeks, The Complete Series
I ended up watching this whole thing twice because it's just that good. Set in 1980 Midwest USA, F&G so completely encapsulates the high school experience that it's painful to relive those memories again. I usually have no problem with watching awkward scenes, but during the course of F&G it was common for me to pause an episode half-way through just so I could make it through the rest. I mean that in a totally positive way, as the total sum of writing, situations, and peer relations adds up to one heck of a tv show. In case you ever need any insight into my personality, you only need to look no further than Lindsey Weir (Linda Cardellini). I have never found a girl more like myself in any form of media. Lindsey has a more developed rebellious streak, but had I been placed in her situation I would have turned out exactly the same. Exactly. Not even kidding, you guys. From the sarcasm, to the begrudging academic talent, to the desire to do something else, anything else with your life, and two well-meaning but sort of clueless parents and adoring younger brother, she really is my tv twin. To sum up: Watch this show for the realism. Watch it for Bill Haverchuck and Neal Schweiber. Watch it to remember just what it was like to be a teenager.
Wonderfalls, The Complete Season
As irritated as I get when good shows are canceled, there is something to be said for single-season masterpieces. Typically complete storylines, these shows are perfect gems, untainted by shark-jumping or meddling network execs. Wonderfalls is a prime example of this. Jaye Tyler is a Brown graduate with a degree in philosophy. Therefore, she now lives in a trailer park and works at a Niagra Falls souvenir shop. Disaffected 20-somethings represent! Oh yeah, and inanimate objects talk to her. Her family is Bluth-esque in that they're very bizarre and loveable at the same time. A larger budget and more episodes would have been nice, but it's quite good as is.
How I Met Your Mother, Season One and Two
I got into this show with the intention of watching a fun sitcom--one where I didn't have to troll for spoilers or worry about watching the episodes in a certain order. A tv show without commitment? Awesome!
Yeah, that worked out well for about six episodes or so. I fell head over heels in love with HIMYM. It combines the best elements of Friends and Scrubs to maximum effect. HIMYM is irreverant, witty, and the greatest thing to grace CBS since maybe ever. Ted Mosby, can I be the mother of your children? Please?
Wipeout, Select Episodes
My goodness, what a ridiculous concept for a tv show. "Let's have cash-hungry America be humiliated in as many ways as possible on the World's Largest Obstacle Course!" But of the few episodes (including, sadly enough, the faux awards show grossly called "The Wipies") I caught, I laughed so hard I maybe couldn't breathe. Lame. But super hilarious. I kind of hope it comes back for a second season.
Pushing Daisies, Season One
I hold so much affection for this little show in my heart. I watched it last fall, but recently snatched up the DVDs and managed to view all nine episodes this last weekend. It will forever be in my top five tv shows and not just because of Ned/Lee Pace.
PD is an expertly balanced blend of twee and macabre, kind of like the illegitimate love child of Tim Burton and Betsey Johnson. In the special features of the DVD, they talk about the importance of color. Everything is heavily saturated and relies on reds, golds, and greens, which represent life, spirituality, and growth. Gorgeously crafted and straight out of a fairy tale, it is all too wonderful to embrace the world of The Pie Maker. Chuck's inability to touch Ned is very easy to relate to, as I can't hug or kiss Ned either. I feel your pain, sister! Bryan Fuller is a master at blending the worlds of life and death. Heads up: Have pie at hand--you will crave it like crazy.
Currently watching: My So-Called Life and Dead Like Me
Seen anything good lately? I still plan on watching Buffy and probably Felicity after that. (Edit: Oh, and Alias! Thanks to AllTheWine for reminding me about that one.) Lost is going to wait until the end of the series. Also, I only saw a couple episodes, but Doogie Howser, M.D. is insanely funny. No, really!
You see, I'm addicted to good television.
I'm thrilled to announce the First Annual TV Week here at Blog Headquarters. I'm planning a special Proselytizers of Pop for later today, as well as lists, recaps, and prizes. While it was my intention to kick things off yesterday, I happened to be out of town and vacations trump blogging. But never fear because it's gonna be legen...wait for it...
My love affair with television really started with Sabrina the Teenage Witch. There was this one episode where her bratty relative was going to turn her into a life-size doll and I had to miss it because of some lame family event. Needless to say, there were tears.
The second step was the summer the Lil' Bro and I borrowed the first few seasons of M*A*S*H from the library and would spend hours laughing our heads off. I think this was when I really fell in love with television. The humor of the 4077th was so timeless and you couldn't help but get attached to the characters. I may have not seen it when it first aired, but I can admit that I wept when Henry Blake died and that connects me to the millions of others who felt the same.
The final nail in my tv-loving coffin isn't hard to guess. I started obsessively watching The Office about halfway into the second season. That summer, propelled by the greatest season finale to ever grace tv, I tapped into the dangerous combination of tv fans and the internet. It was one of those joyous moments of "Wait, there are others out there like me? Let's be friends!" As my tastes and options expanded, I branched out to love so many shows.
Television connects stories and art, which happen to be my two of my very favorite things. It's only natural that I love it as much as I do. It allows for instant gratification, expansion and growth of characters, and the visual exploration of words. Even though nothing can ever replace the book, television challenges text. Television persuades, teaches, and entertains. Those can be used for evil, but just because something has the ability to be used for evil doesn't mean it always is.
Sunday was the 60th year of The Emmy Awards--the least-watched Emmys in history. It's ironic that the Academy decided to honor the hosts of reality television (who, BTW, sucked all the funny out of the room) while reality television is probably the cause of the low numbers. Not that all reality programming is bad, but every intriguing drama or comedy that gets canceled means yet another night of Deal or No Deal. Television isn't dead, but it means that those of us who appreciate it will have to fight just a little bit more. We're a rare breed, but some of us watch The Emmys with the dream that maybe one day, that will be us up there accepting the award for Best Writing in a Comedy Series.
Those who criticize and malign television don't know what they're missing, because there is so much greatness already produced and so much potential to be realized.
Basically, I'm just really glad it's September.
Friday, September 19, 2008
(Tina Fey and the Bookaneers)
Get yer pirate name here and be dubbed somethin' fierce. Guard this knowledge well, me hearties!
Marilyn the Malformed
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I went rock climbing. Climbing up a rock. Like, physically going up a wall of rock. Ohhhh yeah.
I was pretty excited because I love a good adventure and I'm willing to try most anything once. My co-worker Carla, her husband Matt, and brother-in-law Josh were all there and it was intense (not unlike camping). We hiked up to the top of the rock and figured out the ropes, both figuratively and literally. The idea was to rappel down and then climb back up. Since they're all seasoned pros, they were asking me stuff like, "So are you afraid of heights?" Followed, of course, by nervous laughter and "Um, not too afraid, I guess." In reality I was thinking, You want me to go down that? With just a rope and a harness? Whoa, let's not get ahead of ourselves. The cars down there are practically the size of the plastic cars from The Game of Life. I haven't passed the marriage space or bought a log cabin or cured the common cold or had twins yet! What about the twins?! I believe Joey from Full House summed it up best when he said, "Cut. It. Out!"
But I'm no quitter, so down the cliff I went. There was a minor freak-out of WHERE DO I PUT MY FEET, but I bravely overcame. Consensus: Rappelling rocks. (Pun.) Once you get the rhythm down, it's so much fun. I imagine it looked something like this:
Then came the real challenge--getting back to the top. Carla let me borrow her shoes. Très kind! I only made it about halfway up and stayed there hugging the cliff in a manner that church leaders tell us young Mormon kids to never, ever do to the opposite sex. But for my first attempt at rock climbing, I felt extremely good about myself.
Also, I learned tons of new jargon. Did you know that "leading" is when you climb up and attach your rope to the bolts as you go? Because people need to make scaling large slabs of rock even more dangerous.
But wait! There's more! The best part of the evening was when we decorated paper maché heads of one another, à la Michael Scott in the Halloween episode of The Office. (Pictures shamelessly taken from Carla.)
Honest, I do not look this fake-baked EVER. We ran out of white, so there was improvisation involved.
In case you can't tell, Josh's eyes have glitter in them. I thought it was a nice touch. He also looked more like a Muppet than I intended.
The pre-maché materials. Rather genius, don't you think?
As they say in the rock business, "Once you go slack, you never go back!" Or maybe I just made that up. Whatever. It was a blast and I'm determined to make it to the top at some point in my life. Young Gretchen would have never tried climbing and rappelling, but Fancy New Gretchen is all over that stuff.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Counting down things in any form makes me feel a bit like Casey Kasem. (For you younger folks, he was kind of like Ryan Seacrest but with a better voice and not so ahem flamboyant.)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
This one caught my interest long before I even knew what it was about, because my ancestors come from the Isle of Guernsey located in the English Channel. Written solely through letters and telegrams, this book is awash in history, war stories, and romance. The main character, Juliet, is so likable that I wish the whole thing had been narrated by her. The diverse cast provides some genuine hilarity, which is balanced out with the memories of World War Two.
Love is a Mixtape, by Rob Sheffield
To be honest, I thought this book had been the definitive volume on mixtapes for years. Turns out it's only been out since early-2007. Thankfully, in about twenty years this will still be the definitive volume on music and love. You have to be a music geek to truly appreciate it, but it's more accessible than Perfect From Now On: How Indie Rock Saved My Life, which is what I'm reading right now. Rob's connection to his wife Renee is so palpable that it's heartaching to read at parts. Someday, I'll buy a copy and instead of storing it with my books, it will go on the shelf with my favorite albums.
Violet on the Runway, by Melissa Walker
There are endless versions to the "small town/awkward girl becomes overnight sensation," which in the book's case, transfers to the realm of modeling. For technically being a YA novel, there was a surprising amount of drug references and language. It's amusing, but not a stand-out. On the other hand, I do have to tip my hat to Melissa Walker for perfectly executing a Rivers Cuomo/Buddy Holly/Clark Kent joke overflowing with snark. Also, I tried reading the sequel but Violet was being so unbearable that I didn't get very far.
She & Him, Volume One
I have such a huge girl crush on Zooey Deschanel, the "She" in the band's title. The "Him" is M. Ward, whom (who? whom?) I don't know much about. I don't see how anyone could not like this CD. Zooey's signature quirky style shines through in every song. Her lyrics seem simple at first, but there's lots of meaning once you really listen. I was impressed by her cover of "You Really Got A Hold On Me," but her rendition of The Beatles' "I Should Have Known Better" didn't thrill me. Call me a purist, but I'm wary of every single Beatles' cover out there. There's a strong country element that harks back to Patsy Cline, as well as a titch of the 50's Doris Day sound. My mother would also like to point out that she loves this cd and occasionally has to admit I have good taste in music.
Joshua Radin, Simple Times
If you absolutely can't wait for the store release on September 30th, go buy it from iTunes. That's what I ended up doing and I don't regret it at all. Joshua's signature "Whisper Rock" sound has never sounded better. Simple Times deals with break-ups and bad dreams and environmentalism, but the overall tone is cheerier than his first album We Were Here. There's a strong theme of moving forward which I really need in my life right now. Mmm...he makes me melt. I don't care when or where you buy it from, just please buy it.
30 Rock, Season Two
It about near kills me that 30 Rock doesn't come back until the end of October, because of all the shows on television, this one weathered the Writers' Strike the best. Ignore the guest spots by Jerry Seinfeld and David Schwimmer and focus on Carrie Fisher, Al Gore, Matthew Broderick, and Edie Falco. There are maybe only two weak episodes out of fifteen--that is one superb track record for a season of tv. The characters are more developed in Season Two, as is the flow of humor. The best musical scene in the history of television very well may be Midnight Train To Georgia, as seen in Episode 210. We also get to see the return of Floyd, Dennis Duffy, and Devon Banks. 30 Rock, you are truly made of WIN.
I'm not going to lie, I had really high hopes for this one. About an hour into it, I was still all, "Um...what?" Then it picks up at the end, but my expectations were dashed by that point. Anne Hathaway is hot and Steve Carell is funny when he yells. That's it.
Big Dreams, Little Tokyo
Okay, this is more like it. Dave Boyle (a Utahn--holla!) wrote, directed, and starred in this delightful little indie flick. Here's the synopsis from IMDB, because it's getting late and I'm getting drowsy. "Big Dreams Little Tokyo is the story of Boyd, an American with an uncanny ability to speak Japanese. Boyd aspires to succeed in the world of Japanese business but finds himself mostly on the outside looking in. Meanwhile, his roommate Jerome, is a Japanese American who has always felt too American to be Japanese but too Japanese to be American. He aspires to be a sumo wrestler but finds his weight and blood pressure are thwarting his dreams. Together they struggle to find their place in a world where cultural identity is seldom what it seems." Boyd is nebbish and awkward, yet still charming. Jerome was freaking hilarious and their Japanese friend Mai is so perfect in every scene. The amateur filming comes off more skilled than one would expect. I smiled more than I laughed, but sometimes that's a really, really good thing when it comes to entertainment. You might have a hard time finding it, but pounce if you get the chance.
Monday, September 15, 2008
While we're on the topic, I also thought I'd post the review I wrote back when I finished Breaking Dawn. I didn't post it because back then I was still under the whole "review-blog-delusion." Better late than never, right? There's some repetition between my answers for Megan's thing and this review, which is to be expected. Also, hers is much cooler, so read it first.
(One last thing...I have not yet read Midnight Sun and I support Stephenie's decision to not publish it. And the movie looks iffy, but I'll see it open weekend anyway.)
I remember reading Twilight during the week a major paper was due in my sophomore year of college. Big mistake. “Book crack” was how I explained it to a fellow bibliophile. She borrowed my copy and went straight to the book store to pick up New Moon, which I polished off the weekend before finals. That probably wasn’t the best move of my college career, but what did it matter? I’d been bitten.
Before I get to the review, let me put up my argument in defense of the Twilight saga. I’ve never viewed it as more than a Young Adult Romance/Suspense with vampiric themes. I do not believe people should give it any more credit than that. Meyer is not going to be the Austen of our generation and it is not on par with Harry Potter in the realm of YA literature. As far as Stephenie Meyer’s writing goes, it’s frankly hackneyed and repetitive. However, she is a gifted storyteller and her ability to create a compelling and original love triangle is enviable. Her books are abundantly entertaining, which is why they’re so massively successful. Most of all, they’re dead sexy without being inappropriate (minus one headboard, of course).
Breaking Dawn covers the time from Bella and Edward’s wedding through a period of great change in their lives. It is not the strongest book in the quartet, but it does the series justice. The defining passion of the previous books is not lost—maybe it even gained steam along the way. The way Stephenie planned Book Three in BD is either genius or a huge cop-out and I honestly have to lean towards the genius side. There are twists and turns that I didn’t except (granted, a few were painfully obvious). For the most part, the new characters are remarkable enough to hold the reader’s attention during parts that might otherwise seem tedious. Her writing (not surprisingly) ranges from trite to touching. I will admit, though, that there were sections that were actually done quite well, primarily in Jacob’s book and also during the meeting with the Volturi. If only her editor had helped as much in the other portions!
I was very impressed with the way that Stephenie handled the intimate moments in Eclipse, so I was naturally curious with how she’d deal with it in BD. It’s not thinly veiled, but still tasteful enough that parents really shouldn’t freak out about their girls reading it. I know plenty of moms will feel differently, but that’s just my opinion.
I was glad to see a whole section from Jacob’s POV. I have always adored Jacob and I needed that closure from his perspective. I totally thought he was going to imprint on Leah—I should have picked up on the fact that it was a ruse. Lots of reviews rant about the fact that he latches onto young Nessie, but I wasn’t that weirded out by it. (Editor's note: Looking back, I am pretty skeeved out.) The match of Quil and Claire was some funny foreshadowing for that. It’s not like Jacob has to wait for the normal amount of time, either.
Vampire Bella is substantially more enjoyable to read than her human counterpart. Sure, the personality switch is contrived, but what about any of the saga isn’t? She was always meant to be a vampire. Why wouldn’t she be happy and loving and ready for the challenge? Bella gets a loving husband, a family, and eternal life. Plus, she gets to look super hot while kicking the crap out of the evil guys. That actually makes complete sense from an LDS perspective.
Again, many reviewers seem irked by the fact that Bella gets everything (and at such a young age!) without any personal sacrifice. They complain about the marriage agenda and how she isn’t ready for motherhood. I almost agree with these things, but not quite, because a) Bella suffers from a ginormous martyr complex, b) of course it’s going to have a happy ending, and c) I really wouldn’t go taking lessons on love from these characters. Writing this review is definitely the most thought I’ve put into the series as a whole. It was fun to read and I’d still recommend it to other people. It met every single one of my not-that-high expectations.Oh, one more thing.
What an appalling name.
I mean, really.
Friday, September 12, 2008
One of my favorite/least-favorite things about myself is that I'm deeply rooted in so many interests. I could easily start a blog devoted to photography, fashion, webcomics, indie music, books, writing, cooking, or TV. The only issue is deciding which of those I'd write about, since I feel so strongly about each of them. Hence, most of it gets directed here. There is always an underlying theme about things that matter to me in my posts, but otherwise it's all very hodge-podge.
BUT. I can't let go of the review concept yet, so instead I'm starting a weekly feature on this blog. It'll be called "Proselytizers of Pop" from this fantasticly true quote from David Palladino.
"They are proselytizers of pop, as all rock 'n' roll lovers are, because when you love a band or a song, you want others to love it too, you need them to love it, they've got to love it, or else, or else--well, or else you'll try again another time with a band that you have to share with them. Once you get caught up in this never-ending cycle of proselytizing, you never get out. You don't want to get out. Not until the word's been spread."
Gilmore Girls Soundtrack Liner Notes
The feature will usually run on Tuesdays, starting this next week. I'll give brief reviews of all the books, CDs, TV, and movies I've consumed during the past week. This will allow my inner-critic to be let loose a little more often and maybe some of the recommendations will pique your interest.
Next week, you can expect to see mini-reviews of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, She & Him's "Volume One," Joshua Radin's "Simple Times," and 3o Rock Season Two.
I also plan on writing recaps for The Office once it starts up again. (Did you see those new promos? Wowzer! That show can't come back soon enough.)
If all that meta-blogging was too boring (don't worry, I know it was), will a funny cat video make it up to you? (Via Daily C)
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
But I digress.
One of the perks about having a steady job and no school is that I no longer feel guilty about buying beautiful things. I do try to be sensible and most of it is going into savings, but I don't see any reason why I can't have a little fun.
Headbands, Forever 21, $1.50 They're very delicate and shiny. A bunch of you wondered if I bought the hat from last week and I didn't! I most definitely regret it and I plan on buying it next time I go downtown.
Scarf, Charlotte Russe, $9.99 I love the buttery-yellow shade. I wore it to a movie night last week and a friend told me I looked very indie. Success!
Button-down shirt, Penguin, $10 I bought it at this weird discount shop for way cheap. I also would like to eat the buttons on the sleeve because they look like Smartys.
Laptop Bag, Golla, Free Okay, I didn't technically buy this since we got it when we switched over to high-speed. Still, it fits my laptop perfectly and the cheery pattern makes me happy. (You know you're a geek when...)
From left to right:
Dunder Mifflin Thermal, NBC.com, $6.99 The original retail price is $28, but I managed to get it on sale. It almost makes me want the cold weather to be here so I can wear it. (The key word there is almost.)
Fairy Graphic Tee, Old Navy, $5 Old Navy was having this kick-awesome sale on labor day. I own far too many graphic tees, but this one has a v-neck which somehow made it justifiable. On the shoulder, there's a small flower graphic that brings it all together.
Argyle Polo, Old Navy, $10 Every once in a while I have to indulge my preppy side. I've been craving argyle (is that weird?) and could not resist it in polo-form.
Flats, I have no idea who made them, $4 These were a serendipitous department store find. Fun fact: Dorothy's shoes are silver in the Wizard of Oz books, but they got changed to red in the movie to show off the new color technology.
WANT: A cardinal pea coat, pink cashmere cardigan, and a 16GB iPod Nano in purple
(sigh! Those may have to wait.)
Monday, September 8, 2008
1. I played Rock Band for the first time on Saturday. I now get what all the fuss is about.
2. The other day, I hit 1,000 tweets on my twitter page.
3. I'm an amazing editor/proofreader if I'm evaluating someone else's work. When it comes to my own stuff, though, I'm utterly hopeless.
4. I'm getting restless without new tv. Two weeks...
5. I may be a music snob, but I'm the kind of music snob that really truly loves listening to the radio.
6. I keep my tickets from everything--movie passes, TRAX stubs, and plays. I have saved every single fortune I get from fortune cookies.
7. Speaking of fortune cookies, I think they taste delicious. I also eat the entire fortune cookie before reading the fortune, because I believe that's the only way it will come true. ("I'm not superstitious, but I'm...I am a little stitious.")
8. Fall Semester at my alma mater starts today. It's the first September in over sixteen years where I haven't gone to school, and while this makes me mostly overjoyed, it also makes me more sad than I anticipated.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Here’s the next installment in Enna Isilee’s big birthday contest, since she's wonderful and I love to help out my bloggy friends. (For the uninitiated, Enna Isilee is the name of a character in Shannon Hale's Bayern books.) Today’s mode of entry is:
Do you prefer writing long-hand, or on a computer, or not at all?
That’s all you have to do! Just leave a comment on this post with your answer and you’ll automatically have 2 entries towards this week’s prizes and the grand prize. This week’s prizes will be announced on Monday, and the grand prize will be announced on Enna Isilee’s birthday, September 22nd.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I felt like I needed a savvy trench coat and stockings with lines up the legs. I was so born in the wrong fashion era.
Even though I would never buy this, I secretly love how it looked on me.
This is The BFF. She leaves for school in two days and I won't be going with. I might just go crazy without her here.
We didn't realize the timer had gone off, leading to a picture that says, "We are entirely indifferent about the fact we look totally hot."
It was also her idea to take these shots of us in front of Mr. Hot A&F Guy. This old man (who looked like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof) laughed at us.
This is a high-class jewelry store, suffering from a major case of apostrophe FAIL.
Yay for waterfalls!
I always wonder about the random people in photos. What are they like? Would we get along? Do they have any photos with me in them?
It's a very imperfect picture, but it has to be one of my favorites from that night. Neko Case is the blur of light on the left.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
2. Two Saturdays ago I had the privilege of attending the release party for Rapunzel's Revenge. RR is a graphic novel co-written by Shannon and her bizarre-but-awesome husband Dean. Nathan Hale (no relation) illustrated the Westernized fairy tale. There were about nine other Utah authors in attendance and I got autographs from all of them. I also maybe wore my hair in braided pigtails so I could look like the book's version of Rapunzel. (Nerd. I'm what could be described as a Shannon Hale-groupie.) They did a reader's theater and it was a rip-roarin' good time. I've met Shannon on a number of occasions before, so I truly think she's the tops. Here's the two of us at a signing last October.
Also: proof I really did use to be blond. (Semi-related: I'm itching for another major hair switch.)
3. If someone asked me who my favorite female singer-songwriter was, I would answer Neko Case without even pausing for breath. Therefore, I was shaking with excitement all Thursday at the chance to see her in Salt Lake FOR FREE. ( For the past summer, there's been a weekly, high-profile concert downtown to no cost to the attendees. Go SLC!)
She's everything I imagined and then some. The crowd was noisy, but buzzing with life. It was everything an outdoor concert should be, which is warm and smoky and yeasty. It was also fun to go and see the amazing collection of interesting Utahns, because I forgot sometimes that Utah can be fascinating. Neko Case, in all her flaming-hair glory, played a ton of stuff from Fox Confessor Brings The Flood (my favorite album) and also debuted some great new songs. Her true country heart shines through in her soulful, honeyed voice. Just listen to the crowd favorite "Hold On, Hold On" and you'll see what I mean.
(She also sings with another one of my favorite bands, The New Pornographers. It sounds dirty, but they're super talented and really not filthy. I recommend the album Twin Cinema.)
In addition to the concert, the BFF and I also got in some good food and shopping downtown. Fun times, yo.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Anyhoo, because I firmly believe in supporting the teen book community (and because mentioning it gives me an extra ten entries...), I thought I'd let you know that Enna Isilee from Squeaky Books is starting this massive contest that culminates on September 22nd. Lots of books to be given away and an awesome grand prize. Find more details here.